Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Reflection on June 6, 1984 – (paragraph 2-4)

I have to say that I am having some trouble with this one. SJPII is speaking about the language that the two are using to speak bout each other and its connection with eros. I was thinking that these descriptions would without flaw in the sense that they were scriptural and point back to Adam and eve before the fall. However SJPII speaks about the limitations on this language. I think the last line in the reading might shed some light on our understanding. "These words express the power of love, the force of eros in loving union, but they also say (at least indirectly) that in the "language of the body" this love is definitively limited by death."

The language of the body is limited by death. When the bridegroom sees the bride, that language that is spoken, that beginning of understanding, what he experiences from seeing her, all of this certainly happens and will continue to speak to him until she is no longer there. Because of the limitations of death to or earthly bodies, the language of the body cannot fully describe that relationship we have with God. It makes me think again of the limitations of Revelations. There John is trying to describe the divine with earthly images and therefore the images will never fully reveal the totality of what was revealed. Similarly, our bodies are limited by mortality and therefore cannot fully express the divine.

What does happen because of our concupiscence is we take the language and the eros described and distort it, put our own spin to it, and lose the beautiful meaning that pointed to the divine. The world looks at sexual desire and much of the sensual desires that appear in the Song of Songs and have twisted those into a desire that we should focus on ourselves, our feelings, become selfish. SJPII reads this and sees a longing to give one’s self, a disinterested gift. The world sees eros as a reason to fulfill all selfish desires; SJPII sees it as a bodily language that pushes us to want to fully give ourselves to another. I see the misinterpretation of the language of the body and can't help but think of the misinterpretations of Revelations on things like the Rapture and being left behind. It only furthers my lack of understanding in people's confidence (arrogance) t think they are able to fully interpret scripture and the confidence I have in the Catholic Church because they have taken that burden off of me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Reflection on June 6, 1984 – (paragraphs 1)

So, the book contains about 4 pages worth of writing that is condensed in one paragraph of the speech. Much of it contains quotes from the Song of Songs. SJPII begins with finishing his thoughts on the bride and the idea of the garden closed, the fountain sealed. The way I interpreted this is the idea of the mystery of femininity. The female is unique and different than man, created by God to be this way, created to be man (human) on her own and yet fulfilled with unity with man (male). But this mystery is contained within and man (male) cannot know it until she opens herself up to him, being a gift of self, fully given. We talked earlier about the only way to truly enter into marriage and its vows is for both to fully understand who they are in their masculinity and femininity apart. The female, when described as a garden closed, represents a female who fully knows herself, who she is in all her femininity, and is waiting to give that gift of self, knowing fully what it is, to the one God has made for her. The garden remains closed, the fountain sealed, until that time.

SJPII then moves on to the man (male) as he sees the bride. There is a long portion of Scriptures in Song of Songs that is a list of images the bridegroom uses to describe the bride. Although they may seem out of touch with what we would call romantic, they form the basis for his visually seeing the bride and beginning to discover her in her femininity. Going back to Genesis 2, we see that Eve is brought to Adam, and when he sees her he says, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”. It was covered earlier in going over that text, but Adam knows fully that Eve is different than himself in her femininity but like him in being completely unique from all the animals he had named. He knows this immediately and fully upon seeing her. This visual understanding is played out in the bridegroom’s description of his bride. In seeing her, as the images might portray, as the perfect specimen of femininity, he longs to be in union with her, to fully give himself and be fully received.

We then move into that unity. “Set me as a seal upon your heart”. SJPII recognizes this as the two become one, the bride fully receives the bridegroom and vice versa. The seal is the covenant that they make together. The footnotes from my Bible speak of the seal being worn around the arm or on your neck or as a ring. I couldn’t help but think of the ring on my own finger, as a sign of the unity I have with my wife, that was given when we made the commitment to fully give and fully receive each other, when her secret garden was opened and we created our own garden that is to be sealed to all others as both as we are alive. As you flush out these meanings, it is becoming a very beautiful and deep book of Scripture.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Reflection on May 30, 1984 – (paragraphs 3 – 5)

I can see why people might have a hard time reading Song of Songs and grasping its full beauty and meaning. First, poetry, at least for me, has always been difficult. Second, it is poetry from before Christ, so much of the imagery is not a context that we understand. Thirdly, and the one that I think I gleamed from SJPII during this section, is that this appears to be written between a bride and groom that have no stain of concupiscence, in other words, written by Adam and Eve after Eve’s creation and before the fall. Over and over SJPII points out that the words of Song of Songs reflect back on the attitude that would have been or are divulged in Genesis 2 between Adam and Eve. The sharing that the bride and groom have in Song of Songs is almost beyond our comprehension because it comes from a love that we don’t understand. It is one that we should strive for, but not one that we have experienced, or at least we have not experienced in its full sense, and so we cannot relate. Give us a romantic comedy in which two people fall in love, but both have issues, ups and downs, but stay together in the end. We get that. This is a relationship of two completely unselfish, or “disinterested”, givers and receivers.

But, like Revelation, just because this is difficult to understand or really soak up does not mean we shouldn’t try. I read through Song of Songs this weekend, and I didn’t feel that I got anything new from it. But, even with going over what we have, I am not sure I read it in the correct light. I am going to give it another try (it is not terribly long) and read it as Adam and Eve conversing after Eve’s creation. This is how they saw each other in the beginning. This is what Christ was pointing to when He spoke on divorce when He says “in the beginning it was not so”. When we try to understand the language of the body and try to figure out what that language is, without all the mistranslating we have because of concupiscence, this book is our guide.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Reflection on May 30, 1984 – (paragraphs 1 and 2)

Although the “language of the body” is the unspoken understanding we receive when we look at man, male and female, we attempt to express that language through words when we write love songs or poems, etc. SJPII is saying that, even if it seems archaic to us, the Song of Songs is the scriptural attempt to put this language of the body into words. I think many would disregard the Song of Songs as an important book in Scripture, but if you have followed what SJPII has said, this interpretation of the Song of Songs as the verbal translation of the unspoken language of the body, it takes on a very important meaning. That is because all that we have seen SJPII wrap up in the importance of this relationship, this union, the male and female sign of marriage, to our understanding of our relationship to God. That language of the body speaks to us, and as we saw, it prophesies to us, God’s words, teaching us what He wants for us and what we were created for from the beginning. If that union is so important for our understanding and that union speaks to us in the language of the body, the scriptural translation of that should speak to us about that union as much at Revelations speaks to us about the unspoken mysteries of the Eucharist and Mass.

It is an interesting reflection on the use of the word “sister” for the bride. If I understand it correctly, the use of the word “sister” is to bring about a sense of the unity that comes from the understanding that they are both man, created by God in the unique way humanity was brought forth. We go back to Genesis 2 and Eve creation, Adam sees her as like him, as compared to all other animals, thus related. But she is different, she is female, so she is sister. SJPII talks about the term “friend” is used at some points, to relate the understanding of the relationship, but he term “sister” is used more to give the understanding that these 2 are related, in the same sense that Adam and Eve were related in their creation and uniqueness from all other creatures, but also are different in that she is female.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Reflection on May 23, 1984

I know I have given links to EWTN’s website which has the talks given by SJPII, the but book that I have been reading during my reflections is “Man and Woman, He Created Them”. Although the translations have been different, they have basically coincided up to this point. However, over the next 11 reflections, the book offers extended writings from SJPII that were not included in the talks. There are actually 11 reflections broken up that cover 5 talks given. The book does a good job of showing where in the talks the reflections extend upon, so I will still but the links to EWTN, I will just be using the same speech for more than 1 post. For example, the speech given June 6, 1984 is extended and covered in sections 111, 112, and 113 in the book. I will be doing reflections on all 3 sections of the book, so there will be 3 reflections for the June 6, 1984 speech. I haven’t found anywhere online where you can get access to the book that I am using, which is why I have been linking to EWTN’s site.

I also think that it would be a good idea to go through and read the book Song of Songs. SJPII, unlike other Scripture that he has unveiled, seems to be covering ideas in the entire book rather than a limited set of verses. of Songs&ch= Here is a link to USCCB’s website. There is an introduction and 8 chapters, so as we got through the next 11 reflections, I may also add reflections from my reading of the Scriptures on their own.

I think some might find the association of talking about Scripture being sexual as awkward. But SJPII points out that the balance or union of the sexual and the sacred in necessary in that most intimate relationship of marriage. I don’t know why we should find it awkward? It would be easy to point to the Puritan roots in this country, but for the most part the pendulum has swung the other way in regards to sexuality. Maybe it is because of the swing, we see sexuality as something of the world and not from God. I think it is interesting how SJPII points to Genesis 2 in its relationship to Song of Songs. That attraction to the other goes beyond reproduction. Adam sees Eve as someone like him, a helper, meant for him. That attraction brings about the unity God intended and the unity, although it has reproduction as an outcome, is a unity that goes far beyond that and changes who they are, “ the two become one flesh”. Because the unity is about more than reproduction, the attraction is more than just animalistic, and I think that points to the idea that sexual attraction is of God, not man, and should not cause us to blush, but to inspire us to take it back from the world which distorts it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Reflection on February 9, 1983

There has been talk recently with the synod on families about divorce and new flexibilities in allowing divorcee’s to receive the Eucharist. If you read some, it is a done deal that this is going to happen, while if you read others (and the more credible ones in my experience) and we will not have any concrete theological directions from this synod for a rather lengthy period of time. All that we have now are snippets for some, and probably a lot of that with the spin of their own particular bias. I was trying to think what SJPII would be saying at the synod in light of what we read here. Marriage is a sign. Any expression of the language of the body “not according to the needs proper to marriage” comes from the man of concupiscence. In other words, if we degrade marriage or become more acceptable of divorce, we distort the sign that marriage is, and as we have seen, marriage is a fundamental sign of our very understanding of God’s relationship with us. Marriage and its meaning, if seen as that foundational sign, the primordial sacrament, is Truth itself. Truth cannot be changed.

The world talks of divorce and gay marriage and civil unions. All of these speak of distorted language of the body, a distortion of marriage as the primordial sacrament. And we can see very clearly in our world what the distortion of fundamental understanding of marriage has done. It has not only devolved our morality, but, and probably the bigger cause for the first, it has totally distorted and deteriorated the world’s belief and trust in God.

I am nervous about what I hear, but we must trust in the Holy Spirit. What has been released is not the final say and if you look at history, when Humane Vitae was released, the world was expecting something very different. This synod’s end result may just be our next Humane Vitae, which would shake the world and further push Catholics into a segregated group. But, as Humane Vitae has been, that small segregated group will be a bright light shining in a growing darkness of the world. We are not called to bow down to the lowest common denominator so that no one’s feelings get hurt or people will feel no shame. We are called to bring a higher standard to the world, called to be like Christ, called to be that light. The world pushes the Catholic Church towards the lowest common denominator, to a world of relativism, to a world without Truth. We must hope in Christ words that the Church He would establish on the rock of St. Peter, the Catholic Church, and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”.

Reflection on January 26, 1983

Being male or female speaks to us. There is meaning there, order, truth. The world wants to ignore this “language”, but ignoring it only cost us. It will only lead to more confusion because as you move further from the fundamental understanding, you move further away from the truth, and moving further away from truth only leads to confusion. But spousal unity, which is an area where this language of the body is spoken in a unique way, is a complex meaning. Even within a marriage, the language can be misunderstood, the unity can be abused. This is because of our sinfulness and our misuse. We cause hurt and distrust. But this is because the language of the body is complex and we don’t fully understand or appreciate it. It is hard enough to understand the language within a healthy marriage, but the world wants to garble the language until it is almost incoherent. Look at the confusion that is caused by sex outside of marriage, especially with the young, the commitment that isn’t there, the repercussions, the outcomes that lack of trust in future relationships. That is because this complex language is only meant to be spoken within a marriage, and only a marriage of 2 that understand what the marriage is about.

I was thinking of the way the world wants to speak this complex language to us in the simplest ways, without any rules, and not truly getting the point across. I relate it to someone trying to tell someone something very important and complicated through a text message. The world wants us to have enough of an understanding of male and female and marriage and sex through a text message, because they don’t think we will pay attention to anything longer.

SJPII talks about true and false prophets. We have already seen that the married couple are themselves prophets in speaking God’s language through their marriage. We can then apply that to those that use sex and other marital type relationships to speak to the world and see them as the false prophets, the ones that cause scandal, that lead the sheep astray. I think this also supports the idea of couples, and prospective couples, praying the vows. They are a continual reminder of what marriage is about, but also what they are prophesying to the world.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Reflection on January 19, 1983

Have you ever thought that when you are reciting your wedding vows that you are a prophet of God? That seems to be what SJPII is saying. A prophet is someone that speaks God’s word or message to the people. When a husband and wife speak their vows, they are speaking God’s sign of marriage, they are speaking His language of the Body, they are expressing His sign of our relationship with Him, and they are His prophets. They speak God’s truth of conjugal love, faithfulness, and integrity. Not only do they speak these words in public during the ceremony as prophets, but in living out their marriage as a commitment to each other as God intended, they continually speak God’s message through their marriage, they are continually prophets of God.

Language of the Body has been brought up and seems vitally important for what SJPII is discussing, so I am going to quote what is in the back of my book as a definition or description of what is meant when this is used.

“Language of the body … It signifies words that are actually spoken rather than the language in general. The language of the body is the meaning of the body inscribed in it by the Creator and freely expressed by man and woman on the level of a freely given personal word. In the conjugal act, the person speaks an effective work of love and total gift through the body. Theology of the Body first introduces the concept “language of the body” in 103:4, in the context of discussing the sacramental sign of marriage, i.e., the words of the marriage vow together with the conjugal act. These words are spoken with a view to the conjugal act in such a way that this act itself has the character of sacramental sign and spoken word. “Language of the body” as used in the Theology of the Body is thus a concept that essentially includes the conjugal act.

The way I see it, it is what is spoken to us by what we see in man, male and female, what speaks to us in the union we see and what it tells us about our human nature and relationship with God. It seems like we have had this concept given to us, but it has not been given a title.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Reflection on January 12, 1983

We go back to the Old Testament and look at the way the prophets use marriage and adultery in their speaking about Israel and God. We looked at this before and I had the thought that the Old Testament was like the betrothal, while Christ coming in the flesh and starting the Church was the marriage. here are a couple of more points, while reading this and thinking about the analogies, to add to my thoughts on this idea.

We just talked about vows and that even with the vows, the marriage is not complete until it is consummated. SJPII points to this need specifically in the understanding of the Theology of the Body and the understanding of the “2 become 1” union. You need a body to consummate the marriage and God did not come in the Flesh until Christ. The “2 became 1” when Christ fully gave Himself to the Church. Old Testament were the vows before the witnesses of the marriage that would be consummated in the flesh by Christ. This also follows Christ teaching that He did not come to change the law, Old Testament, but to fulfill it. Christ comes to consummate the vows spoken to Israel by God throughout the Old Testament. All of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ, the vows are fulfilled in the flesh, through the unity of Christ and the Church.

It also adds to the fact that Christ spoke about the prophets looking forward to this day. All of the prophets of God understood what was coming, understood what the coming would mean, but were not going to be there when it happened. Think of the married couple looking forward to the wedding night. The anticipation of that special union that would fulfill their vows, unite them as one flesh. During the Transfiguration it is said that Moses and Elijah spoke to Christ about what was about to happen. I always took this to mean about His death, maybe some about the Resurrection. Maybe it included this consummation, the union with the new Church, the fulfillment of all that had come before. Imagine Peter, James, and John hearing them talk about a wedding feast (also and image of the heavenly banquet) and not grasping this, hearing death, sacrifice, gift of self, resurrection, starting the Church, and all they can come up with is we should build tents for you three (or booths). I think this Sunday’s reading is about being invited to a wedding feast. Should we ever look at wedding without knowing they are speaking to us about God and are a sign for us to understand His love for us?

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Reflection on January 5, 1983

I was thinking about the words said during the wedding ceremony, the vows that husbands and wives say to each other. They are a witness, are a visible sign to all those that are at the ceremony. Sacraments are visible sign of God’s Grace, here, these vows show those gathered what God’s grace is bringing, what they are choosing, what this call has lead them to. As a married couple continues to live these vows out in their daily lives, they continue to be a sign, a visible sign, of God’s Grace in the world. Although that might seem obvious, after going through SJPII’s discourses on what marriage means to our understanding of God’s relationship with us and what He has in mind for us and what marriage is meant to teach us, marriage is such a bigger sign, or sacrament, to the world than I ever realized.

I was thinking that the vows that a married couple say to each other could and should be a prayer that they continue to pray after their marriage. The conjugal act is a renewal of that commitment, but couples should be encouraged to pray those vows as a renewal and remember the promises they made. To go even further, the vows said by the couple could be a prayer for those that are single. In the talks on the indissolubility of marriage, we also looked at how that applies to pre-marriage. Praying the vows before marriage, at an age of rationality, establishes that commitment to your future spouse, adds to the respect a person will have for the marriage vocation and an understanding of what that commitment will be.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Reflection on December 15, 1982

I have spoken a lot about the importance of the definition of marriage what that means to our understanding of God. This is the first I have seen of SJPII using the word stable to describe marriage and its importance. This makes sense if you see marriage as the foundation of understanding so many other things, including our relationship with God, His relationship with the Church, and the other sacraments. If that foundation isn’t stable, it will collapse. Not only this, but marriage has been shown to be a stabilizing factor in the world, in civilization. There is really no argument that collapse of the traditional family leads to the collapse of a society. Therefore, it points to the extreme importance of a stable understanding and definition of marriage. When you begin to chip away at a foundation, the building will not stand up long.

Redemption comes to us all through the unity of Christ and the Church. These made me think about spouses bringing redemption to each other. I have heard that your job as a spouse is to get your spouse to heaven. That seems to follow with all that we have learned in the link and unity between the spousal relationship and the relationship of Christ and the Church. When you hear it, though, I sometime brush it off as cliché or fluff speak. I think that is because you don’t want to think about how much we fail at it. As we read and think about what that means, about living every moment as a gift, fully giving and receiving, it feels very daunting to live that and understand that living that life will be the salvation of your spouse. It makes you want to live it and still feel very guilty for not living up to it.

The idea that the vocation of marriage, and marriage itself, is the primordial sacrament, seems to mean that many of its qualities leak into our everyday life. The idea of giving of yourself, the ability to receive, and that this relationship bears fruit, is something that all relationships should trend towards. Living life, being charitable, helping others, it seems that every action we take is a small marriage. In living out these small marriage, we live out a life with an ethos of redemption.

I think SJPII see everything that we have applied to the vocation of marriage and its analogy to Christ and the Church applies as well to those that choose continence for the kingdom. I think he reaches that and laid that foundation when he showed that the two vocations had many of the same traits are were merely two different paths that one was called to and made for.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Reflection on December 1, 1982

It might have been mentioned before indirectly, but I don’t know if I recall marriage being seen as a weapon against concupiscence. It is better to marry so that you have an outlet for your sinful desires. That may not be the best way to put it, but when you view marriage as a method to avoid sin, that is the way it comes across. I think SJPII sees it more as an avenue to bring redemption into your life, marriage offers the opportunity to give and receive another. That unity fills the hole that is often satisfied by sinful acts and it is therefore a weapon against concupiscence. I see it as analogous to the Eucharist, being given and filling us with God, rather than us going out and trying to fill that hole with something else. But just as receiving the Eucharist unworthily brings sin upon you, so will trying to use that special unity in an immoral way will bring about condemnation.

Marriage is not from the world, it is from God. As concupiscence darkens, marriage is something to illuminate. Therefore, marriage is for the world. It is a light for us here while we suffer from the weight of concupiscence. Eschatological man will not need marriage because he will not be suffering from concupiscence. It will not be necessary to have that grace because you will not be battling.

That made me think about what life is like if you are living marriage fully. If you are fully giving and receiving, living out that marriage, you are in a state very close to eschatological man, you are shielded from concupiscence. You live, the closer you get to that fullness of what marriage is meant to be, a life of grace, of light, a saintly life, and one that may be as close to a heavenly existence as you can get on Earth. How often are we told that the more you live your marriage vocation the way it is meant to be the closer you will get to experiencing heavenly joy. The world not only doesn’t say that but tries and continues to try and distort marriage so much that we cannot break through. Not only are they distorting marriage, but they are pushing the idea that there is no Heaven to experience. If your selling point on marriage is to get you closer to Heaven, but the belief in Heaven is fading, it is no wonder the idea of marriage fades along with it.